Impoundment Barra are more difficult to catch compared to saltwater Barra. This blog post outlines a few ways that will get them to bite.
Getting Them to Bite Sub-Surface
Australian native freshwater fish can be notoriously difficult to get a bite out of when they aren’t in the mood, especially when it comes to fishing impoundment Barra.
You can come up with all the theories as to why they shut down, but in the end the truth is they don’t have to work as hard for a feed as a saltwater Barra, and there is an endless supply of food to choose from.
Bearing this in mind, anglers have to work harder to get a hook-up.
You can make it easier by fishing around the full moon at night during summer months. Trolling is the most effective method at this time of year with the right moon phase. Many metre-plus Barra have been caught this way. However, I prefer to fish during daylight hours casting around the shallow edges, so this article is more about this method.
The best advice I can give is to be persistent. There are rare days when you will have red-hot sessions, but more often than not, you will have to earn every bite you get.
During the course of any given day, there will be periods when the Barra will be more active. So what triggers this? It could be water temperature, low light periods, tidal changes in the river below the impoundment, or concentrations of bait - Bony Bream are one of their main sources of food.
So it could be one or any number of these factors, and the only way to deal with this is to be persistent. Once you have located the fish by following the steps in the Part 1 of the Impoundment Barra series, keep casting to where the Barra are showing on your sounder. Use a lure that is getting down to the depth they are holding at, and just keep casting! Sooner or later you will get that bite.
The critical thing is getting that lure in front of the fish constantly; more often than not the bite will come only once you have annoyed them enough.
If a suspending lure twitched in front of the Barra long enough, it should eventually get eaten. For fly anglers, the same applies. The trick is to get the fly down to the depth where the Barra are holding, using a sink tip or intermediate line. Any pink thing or black and barred twitched in front of a Barras’ nose will get the same treatment.
Have confidence in your sounder, if the barra are showing at 3 metres, it’s up to you to get that lure or fly in front of their noses - that’s when it will be eaten!
It can be hard to know how far the fly or lure (I’m talking sinking lures like soft plastics and vibes, not suspending lures which I’ll go into later in more detail) is getting down, so it’s a matter of covering different depths until you encounter a hit or bite, or the bottom! If you just cast randomly you will not have any idea what depth you have reached, so you need to be methodical to try to get the lure to where the barra are showing on the sounder. Try ten casts counting to15 seconds then start twitching. If nothing happens, try 10 casts counting to 30 seconds which will take you down deeper. If that doesn’t work, try 10 casts at 40 seconds and so on until you hit the bottom. Go through the whole process again until you get a hook up; just remember how long the countdown is when you get a bite, that’s where the fish are holding.
It’s a little different when casting suspending lures. Generally these lures are best for fishing depths down to around 5 metres. If you go much deeper than that you are better off using a sinking lure. You will need to cast out well past where you expect to find the fish then crank the lure down to get it into the zone. A suspender is designed to give more “hang time”, so it’s in their face longer. Obviously, there is a limit to the depth you can crank a suspender down to, if the fish are too deep you will have to look at another style of lure.
Fish the strongest hooks possible on the lures you use. This is a juggling act: if you go too heavy it will affect the lures action, sometimes turning that suspending lure into a sinking lure, or completely changing the swimming action of the lure.
By being persistent you will eventually get them to eat. This will often trigger a bite period when a number of fish can be landed. One barra boof will often have this effect, and other fish in the area will suddenly turn on.
If fishing in heavy timber, tie the boat to the timber using a slip knot to position the boat, so it can be quickly released to follow the fish, or clear the timber once you hook up. I personally don’t like using an electric on spot lock in this situation. Heavily pressured fish soon work out what the sound of an electric motor means, and you would be surprised how far the sound of an electric travels underwater.
It can be a slow process, but it works. Just remember people who catch metre + Barra earn them, they don’t come easily!
Very few people have caught impoundment Barra without putting in the hard yards and earning every fish they catch. If you are willing to put in the effort, it can be very rewarding – that unmistakable bite followed by the excitement of a metre+ Barra leaping and tail walking around the boat keeps me coming back time and time again!
John Haenke, Australia